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Smart investment: treating behavioral issues in children

Meet the Basham Family

Harrisburg, Pa.

Like other 11-year-olds, Timothy Hayden likes music, riding in the car and swings. With his autism, however, that’s where most similarities to his typical peers end and the need for medical assistance begins.

“When he was around 2 years old,” mom Benita Basham recalls, “Timmy’s pediatrician was concerned that his vocabulary wasn’t where it needed to be.” Timmy was diagnosed with autism and enrolled in a Capital Area Intermediate Unit preschool program for children with special needs. At age 5, he moved to his local elementary school’s autism support classroom. “He’s been there ever since, though he has some classes with his typical peers in the school,” Benita says. “He’s completed fifth grade, so we’re preparing for the move to middle school next year.”

To help manage behavioral issues, Timmy sees a behavioral specialist consultant and has therapeutic staff support both at home and in school. These are part of Behavioral Health Rehabilitative Services funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services. “Timothy is making progress,” Benita says. “It’s slow, but it’s progress.

“He has communication delays, and this can lead to intense emotions and aggression on his end. He’s now a good size for an 11-year-old – 5 feet 4 inches and 145 pounds – you don’t want any child to be aggressive, but due to his size, safety is now an added concern.”

Benita, who works as a legal assistant in the insurance department for the state, and her husband, George, who is in computer programming, married last year. “When times are tough,” Benita says, “we turn to God for strength. Our faith enables us to go on, knowing that everything will be alright.”

The family relies on medical assistance to provide a second layer of coverage after their insurance. They worry about funding for the programs that Timothy needs to continue to progress.

“My greatest concern for kids with behavioral issues, kids like Timothy, is making sure they have access to services,” Benita says. She also worries about the future. “What will life look like for them as adults? Confrontations with the law? Funding these services for children with behavioral services now seems like a no-brainer to me.”

Thank your legislators for making Human Services funding a priority in the 2017-18 Pennsylvania budget.

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